By Rob Morse | SlowFacts
There are 23 thousand firearms regulations in the USA. This time, a man lied on his state firearms application. The convicted felon got his gun. Last week, he killed five co-workers and wounded six police officers before he was killed by police. Let’s see what we can learn from this murder in Aurora, Illinois. These are the ways that gun-control failed.
Illinois has a lot of gun-control laws. The gun-control group Giffords Law Center ranks the State of Illinois as 8th in the nation for gun-control. Giffords gave Illinois a B+ rating for the strength and breadth of its firearms prohibitions. To start, you must apply for an Illinois Firearms Owners Identification Card. Law abiding citizens need that FOID card before they are allowed to legally touch a gun or buy one round of ammunition. The murderer applied for and received his FOID card. He lied on his application and passed his background check. We were told that couldn’t happen, but now we know that convicted felons will lie and get guns and ammunition.
That contradicts what the Illinois State Police said. The State Police said they conduct a nationwide search on the entire Illinois State FOID card database every night. They search state and national databases for criminal and mental health convictions. We found out that many mental health convictions are never entered into the database. Illinois politicians told us that government employees would keep us safe from criminals who break the law. We found out that government employees don’t follow the law themselves.
The murderer was a prohibited person and barred from touching a gun or ammunition. He served five years of a ten year sentence for aggravated assault and domestic battery. He stabbed his girlfriend with a knife and beat her with a baseball bat. He was entered into the FBI database after that conviction. That should have produced thousands of alarms for the Illinois State Police since the murderer had his FOID card for over four years. Illinois politicians said a database would keep us safe. We discovered that computer background checks don’t work to disarm criminals.
The convicted criminal should have generated an alarm every time he purchased ammunition and showed his FOID card. Most criminals simply avoid that problem by getting their guns and ammo off the street. Maybe the police were too busy running computer background checks and didn’t have time to take the guns from the convicted felons they discovered. We don’t know why the police didn’t arrest this criminal years earlier because the Illinois State police wouldn’t tell us. We’ve discovered that Illinois State Police don’t arrest the felons who have guns illegally.
Illinois has age restrictions in place so that people under 21 years of age are legally barred from purchasing a firearm or buying ammunition. That also means you can’t legally carry a concealed firearm in public until you’re 21 years of age or older. One of the murder victims in Aurora, Illinois was a college student. Illinois State gun-control laws disarmed the victims, but didn’t disarm the murderer. That isn’t what we were promised by Illinois politicians. We were promised that criminals would obey our gun laws.
We can understand how some people could slip through the system. There are storms and communications problems. Computers go down unexpectedly. Illinois has a 72 hour waiting period for the police to re-review any firearms purchase. Illinois law enforcement can put a halt on any firearms purchase if they have any concerns. Illinois politicians demanded more gun-control and said that mistakes wouldn’t happen. These three-day delays stopped honest gun owners from quickly getting a gun for protection, but the delay didn’t stop this murderer from getting his gun to kill.
Illinois gun-control laws gave employers the right to post their property as a gun-free zone. That means that honest gun owners can be fined and have their firearms taken away if they enter a posted area. The property where the murderer killed his co-workers was posted as a gun-free zone. Those plastic signs stopped honest gun owners from carrying a legally owned firearm for self-defense, but the company didn’t search a murderer to make sure he obeyed a plastic sign. Illinois politicians said that gun-free zones would make us safe, but plastic signs didn’t disarm the murderer at all.
Illinois passed gun-control laws that limited the capacity of ammunition magazines. In theory, that meant the murderer had to stop and reload his firearm. In practice, it meant that more honest gun owners were disarmed when their gun didn’t fit the new rules. Gun-control laws, like magazine capacity restrictions, didn’t stop the murderer. Illinois politicians said that gun-control made us safe, but we discovered that any gun is lethal when the victims are disarmed.
Illinois politicians said gun-control laws worked and would keep us safe. We were told that government employees would do their job. We were told that the police would protect us so we didn’t have to protect ourselves. We believed all of it. We were wrong and we paid the price. Honest citizens paid the price with their blood. The difficult truth is that a murderer won’t obey the law. Ink on paper, and plastic signs on a door, won’t stop a killer. Now, we discovered that gun-control laws don’t work and our safety is up to us.